No Sudden Moves

Dripping with a sweet pulpy period goodness, No Sudden Move is an entertaining throwback crime caper from Steven Soderbergh set in 1950s Detroit. Though chock full of heady commentary about many of the things that still plague our country to this day – things like greed, corruption, racism, and environmental injustices, the film excels as an intricately crafted love letter to a bygone era of filmmaking.

"Tension and distrust are on tap as No Sudden Move spins its web of double-crossing, deceit, and shifting loyalties"


Originally planned for production early last year but delayed by the pandemic, the film’s production finally got underway last fall with a stellar ensemble cast which includes Don Cheadle, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Benecio del Toro, Jon Hamm, Julia Fox, and others. As would be expected of a film with such a star-studded cast and crew, No Sudden Move is one of the better streaming options out there right now as the summer release schedule simmers down in preparation for the Fall movie season.

It is 1954 in Detroit as we meet Curt Goynes (Cheadle), a down-on-his-luck gangster recently released from prison. Naturally, he jumps at the offer from a shady character known simply as Jones (Fraser) to do an easy “baby-sitting” job on the family of a low-level auto executive named Matt Wertz (David Harbour). What could possibly go wrong? As we know with “simple” gangster jobs, things won’t be quite that simple. Goynes learns that it will actually be a three-man job as Jones has added two additional petty criminals to the case. Accompanying him on the job will be Ronald Russo (del Toro) to watch over Wertz’s wife and children, while Charley Barnes (Kieran Culkin) accompanies the executive to his office to retrieve a top-secret document.

Everything that could possibly go wrong does as Goynes and Russo are left to try and figure out exactly how everything went sideways and who was responsible. As their investigation uncovers an entanglement of Detroit’s criminal underground, their digging around also draws the interest of the Michigan State Police, in particular Det. Joe Finney (Hamm) who investigates the twisted betrayals on both sides of the law.No Sudden Moves

As expected from a Soderbergh film, the attention to detail is second to none as his story plays out exactly like a noir melodrama from 1950s Hollywood. The dialogue is period-perfect, yet with Soderbergh’s unique touches, while the sets, costumes, production design, choice of lenses, and even the film’s name evoke the genre with a reeking authenticity. Award-winning production designer Hannah Beachler notably sets a deliciously nostalgic mood with one of the most beautifully shot films you’ll see this year.

Perhaps writer Ed Solomon overcomplicates the plot a bit however, as it lunges and lurches at times rather than playing out with the usual razor-sharp precision of a Soderbergh film. There are a lot of characters begging for more screen time and this double-cross-the-other-guy-before-he-double-crosses-you convoluted narrative suffers slightly from not being able to give due care to everyone. In addition, a few too many rug pulls gets slightly annoying.

There is a lot of fun to be had in No Sudden Move as we are always kept on our toes with the numerous twists and turns the adventure takes us on. Though deeply steeped in the era it mimics, it is an original and uniquely Soderbergh film with not only its “didn’t see that coming” ending, but with its uncredited appearance of a Hollywood A-lister as well.

Tension and distrust are on tap as No Sudden Move spins its web of double-crossing, deceit, and shifting loyalties. It is currently playing on HBO Max.

4/5 stars

Film Details

No Sudden Moves

MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some violence and sexual references.
115 mins
: Steven Soderbergh
Ed Solomon
Don Cheadle; Benicio Del Toro; David Harbour
: Drama | Crime
Trust is a setup.
Memorable Movie Quote: "You see, Ron, the problem is you're not smart enough to know how not smart you are."
Theatrical Distributor:
Warner Bros
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 1, 2021 (HBO MAX)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: A group of criminals are brought together under mysterious circumstances and have to work together to uncover what's really going on when their simple job goes completely sideways..


No Sudden Moves